Posts tagged with "Conspiracy theories"

Hillary Clinton trashes Trump over tweeted voter conspiracy theory

August 21, 2019

Hillary Clinton recently said that she “lives rent-free” in President Donald Trump’s mind. Indeed, the POTUS continues to contest the fact that she won the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election—by nearly 2.9 million votes.

What’s more, Trump has asked the DOJ to investigate the former Secretary of State’s emails, her server, her business deals, and her husband.

But this week he returned to his familiar “ballot box” theme, according to a report by Politico—forcing Clinton yet again to rebut his conspiracy agenda.

“Wow, Report Just Out! Google manipulated from 2.6 million to 16 million votes for Hillary Clinton in 2016 Election!” Trump tweeted on Monday. “This was put out by a Clinton supporter, not a Trump Supporter! Google should be sued. My victory was even bigger than thought!”

While Trump did not cite the source of his claim, according to Politico, it came minutes after a segment on Fox Business Network referred to congressional testimony in July from behavioral psychologist Robert Epstein.

In testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Epstein claimed that, based on his research, “biased search results generated by Google’s search algorithm likely impacted undecided voters in a way that gave at least 2.6 million votes to Hillary Clinton.”

Epstein appears to have been citing a study based on a collection of tens of thousands of search engine results collected in the run-up to the 2016 election. The study analyzed a relatively small sample size: The results of 95 different voters, just 21 of whom he says were undecided. He based the results on a phenomenon he calls “Search Engine Manipulation Effect.”

Google has denied Epstein’s claims. Company Chief Executive Sundar Pichai said at a House Judiciary Committee hearing in December that Google had investigated Epstein’s findings and found his methodology flawed

According to the Politico report, Epstein also claimed in his congressional testimony that Big Tech, if left unchecked, could shift as many as 15 million votes toward a particular candidate in the 2020 election. Trump appeared to have nudged that number higher in his tweet Monday.

But Hillary clapped back, tweeting, “The debunked study you’re referring to was based on 21 undecided voters. For context that’s about half the number of people associated with your campaign who have been indicted.”

Research contact: @politico

Spotify acquires producer of macabre podcast content, Parcast

April 1, 2019

If you listen regularly to any of the 19 scripted crime and mystery shows on the podcast network, Parcast—among them, Haunted Places, Serial Killers, Conspiracy Theories, and Cultsyou’ll want to know that they soon will expand to spook a larger audience.

The major audio streaming subscription service, Spotify, has acquired Parcast in a deal expected to close in the second quarter of 2019. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

“The addition of Parcast to our growing roster of podcast content will advance our goal of becoming the world’s leading audio platform,” said Spotify Chief Content Officer Dawn Ostroff in a March 26 company press release.

“Crime and mystery podcasts are a top genre for our users and Parcast has had significant success creating hit series while building a loyal and growing fan base,” Ostroff noted, adding, “We’re excited to welcome the Parcast team to Spotify and we look forward to supercharging their growth.”

“In three years, we have created a production house that has grown exponentially and hit a chord with mystery and true-crime fans, especially women, across all 50 states and around the world. We are proud to join the world’s most popular audio subscription streaming service and gain access to one of the largest audiences around the world,” said Parcat President Max Cutler. “Alongside Spotify, our ability to scale, grow, and amplify the unique and tailored brand of content we create is full of fantastic possibilities.”

One of the things that has made Parcast stand out from the crowd is the fact that they produce everything in-house and own all of the content available on the network. “That is crucial,” Cutler told Podcast Business Journal. “We do not rep other podcasts. We do not make deals on sales for other podcasts. We want to own all the IPs. That gives us a lot of flexibility in how we control the sound, how we build a brand.”

According to the two parties to the deal, Parcast will continue to produce its own creative content. Indeed, TechCrunch reports, there do not appear to be any plans to make Parcast’s shows exclusive to Spotify at present, so if you’re not a Spotify user, you’ll likely still be able to enjoy your favorite Parcast picks after the acquisition.

Research contact: @Spotify

Nearly 40% believe conspiracy theories about aviation chemtrails

November 28, 2017

Today, airlines are nearly as detested as banks and lawyers—and poor or exploitative customer services are just two of the reasons why.

Indeed, perhaps the most popular conspiracy theory online now vilifies chemtrails—the streaks in the sky deposited by aircraft, which sometimes are speculated to be chemical or biological agents deliberately sprayed for unknown (but dangerous) purposes.

Now, a new study based on polling data and online postings–conducted by the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the Harvard Kennedy School—finds that a humongous number of people believe that the vapor trails emitted by airplanes are part of some weather control or mind control plot, according to a November 27 story on Patheos.com

The Harvard University paper presents the results of a nationally representative, 1,000-subject poll under the auspices of the 36,000-subject 2016 Cooperative Congressional Election Study (CCES); as well as an analysis of the universe of social media mentions of geoengineering.

The data show that about 10% of Americans think the chemtrails conspiracy is “completely true’” and that a further 20% to 30% of respondents think that the conspiracy is “somewhat true”—with no apparent difference by party affiliation or strength of partisanship.

In addition, the researchers said, conspiratorial views have accounted for about 60% of geoengineering discourse on social media over the past decade. The anonymity of social media appears to encourage the spread of this information; as does the general acceptance online of unverified or “fake news.”

“As with so many conspiracy theories,” Patheos said, “people who believe them [think that] there is a vast conspiracy of virtually every institution to cover all these things up. Believing they have secret knowledge of this organization … makes them believe that they are part of some resistance movement to an evil that is all-powerful and scarcely imaginable in its scope, which conditions the more unhinged among them to commit violence .

“And scientists involved in debunking the chemtrail nonsense have received many death threats, as well,” the posting informs us, noting, “This is not just harmless fantasizing. It has a real cost.”

Research contact:  (Harvard) hello@gwagner.com